Get Local: Great Travel Initiative in Asia

WithLocals Market

Hit the local market with your guide!

What are your favorite travel memories?

My guess is that most of you will immediately think of an experience with locals. You were invited for dinner in a new friend’s home, or met some local people in a bar and spent your evening together playing traditional card games? These moments seem more special, since while on vacation, it’s easy to spot all of the other tourists at the major sites, but the locals can be hard to find.

So often we follow a tourism handbook to an awesome old local café and arrive to find it overloaded with tourists from our home country!

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Low-Cost Family Escapes to Lanzarote

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Family holidays take many different forms, but when planning aim for the big three: diversity, well-equipped resorts and plenty of fun.

Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, certainly ticks all of those boxes. For starters, kids will love exploring Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape – take them to visit the fascinating Timanfaya National park as part of a day trip, and watch them marvel as small geysers erupt on demand. Or treat your family to a tasty lunch cooked over a geothermal barbeque, powered by searing volcanic heat. The scenery is this part of the world is nothing if not dramatic, and your kids can learn oodles about volcanoes, eruptions and geology by discovering Lanzarote’s lunar-like landscape and lava fields.

Of course there’s no work without play, and once your kids have filled their brains with facts and figures about Lanzarote’s fiery volcanic past, they can hit the beach with Mum and Dad. There are around 30 kilometres’ worth of beaches around the island, along with plenty of other sandy patches and rocky coves dotted around the coastline. Some beaches are made up of black and grey volcanic sands, which create a striking spectacle against the turquoise seas, livid green palms and bright blue sky.

As for resorts, Lanzarote is home to a wide range of child-friendly resorts. Families are best steering clear of Puerto del Carmen which, although it boasts one of the best beaches, is pretty lively and tends to attract party animals to its pub-packed town centre. However, Costa Teguise is a great choice for families. Its breezy coast means there are plenty of watersports on offer, and it’s within a stone’s throw of the island’s only water park – perfect for energetic kids. It also has a lovely white-sanded beach which is a great spot for a day paddling and building sandcastles with the kids.

Lanzarote is home to a wide range of family-friendly resorts, from quiet family retreats to full-on holidays that are all about family fun in the sun. Find out more by searching online at one of UK’s most popular family holiday agents thomascook.com, Thomas Cook’s Lanzarote holidays.

Enterprising Austin and its Travel Agency/Bar Hybrid

Departure LoungeDrinking fine wine is an important part of many of our travels (especially if you’re a Napa and Sonoma junkie like I am), but how about sipping your favorite varietal as a way to make the actual planning of the trip easier to swallow? And no, I’m not talking about pouring yourself some cheap Pinot Grigio while you sit on kayak.com. Leave it to enterprising Austin to open the first ever travel agency / bar hybrid — and I just happened to be in town for its grand opening. The bar was fun enough (and the treats tasty enough) to hang out at even if your Next Big Trip isn’t around the corner, and I love the idea of attracting like-minded travel folk to one locale, regardless of actual trip-planning needs. But while you’re there, why not flip through some guidebooks to see what luxury travel might entice you?

Allow me to introduce you to Departure Lounge.

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A Monthly Treat for Travel Fiends

Escape Monthly

My kind of mail delivery!

Attention wanderlusters: For those of you who haven’t fallen for Birch Box (which I love), this brand-new monthly surprise service might be more your style. Maybe it’s the editor in me, but I just love poring over new products and digging into info on brands and places I’m not familiar with. Seeing as I’m also a travel junkie, imagine how excited I was to be gifted the first installment of Escape Monthly, a monthly shoebox-sized delivery of goodies for the travel-inclined. The first installment just happened to be on Napa, where I’ve been spending a great amount of time lately.

So I dug in with glee!

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San Juan del Sur in Splashes of Color

Red RoseIn addition to the relaxing atmosphere that has me calling it my happy place, and its status as a gateway to some pristine beaches in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is a charming little town in and of itself. I love the color splash, and there are loads of flowers on every block. Even though SJdS is tiny, all of the little details make walking around a fascinating afternoon. I’ve been so many times, thanks to it being where I headed for visa runs when I lived in Costa Rica, making it one of the few places that I haven’t lived yet I go again and again. More and more travelers are discovering this relaxing bay town as a more affordable alternative to some of the more touristy parts of Costa Rica, but it hasn’t been overcrowded yet.

I just love it!

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My happy place: San Juan del Sur

Tatiana Gogolova and Abby Tegnelia

Having lunch with Tatiana at my favorite SJdS spot, El Timon.

One of the best parts about living in Guanacaste (one of the northern provinces of Costa Rica) is that we were very close to the border of Nicaragua, which quickly became a favorite getaway (and necessity for visa runs). My local friends told me before my first trip that I’d love it, describing it as “Costa Rica 15 years ago.” My first time to San Juan del Sur, we happened to meet a lot of children, and on the next trip, I got out of the main area and into the surf beaches and perfect slices of heaven that are right outside of town. And we drank a LOT of rum. (For a good time, head to Iguana…) This time? Four of us girls rented a gorgeous condo on the beach and ate our weight in good food every day. Like on all of these trips, I was the only American in a group of Canadians — as they reminded me more than a few times… When we weren’t laughing hysterically and leaving each other messages on Voxer. It was a great trip!

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